Grab a beverage of choice, get comfortable, and prepare to travel upon a path from the past that determined the future in . . .
How to go from $60K a year to flat broke, embrace adversity, and find a new way.
It was early Spring of 1990. I had been employed with the same company for almost 10 years. I started as a shop helper and had worked my way up the ladder to a position that allowed some financial freedoms, albeit at the cost of time spent.
To make that ascent up the corporate ladder I routinely put in 50+ hour weeks, traveled extensively, and accrued almost 6 months of unused vacation time. But hey, I was making good money! In the 1980’s – early 1990, $60K a year was a dang good income. Couple that with living in a low-cost economic area, I was rocking it!
We had just bought a house, new car, and we recently had our second child. I was happy, the wife was happy, the baby pooped a lot- but the kids were happy too!
Yeah, it was awesome! Until that day in 1990 when I went to work to find out the company had sold. I was told that I was to be “RIF’d” (Economic Reduction In Force), which is a nice way of saying I no longer had a job!
They wrote my severance check, gave me a hat with the new company name on it, and wished me luck. The wife was NOT happy!
Yeah, I knew that things had better change, and soon!
You know that “low-cost economic area” I mentioned? The reason for that was the traditional low wages in the area. Being a rural agriculture base, opportunities to replace my prior income level were few, if any, and the people that had those jobs were not planning on leaving anytime soon.
I knew we could cut back our expenses and manage for about 3-4 months without income. That was the window I had to implement a solution. But where do I begin to look? The nearest place where wages could begin to meet what I had was Denver, about 2-ish hours away.
We just bought the house 6 months prior (making a quick sale impossible without retaining debt), so moving the family to an area with better wages was pretty much out. I could go elsewhere, but that would leave my family alone, something I wanted to rectify from the previous job. Or I could take a job at much less pay and -hope- for something better later. My options seemed limited. Until . . .
I had this really whacked out thought. What if I started a business focused around what I had done in the last job?
I actually enjoyed the challenge, and I was good – make that REALLY good – at it.
I rushed to tell the wife what an amazing idea I had to solve all our problems! To which, she calmly asked, “Can you do better this time than with the last business?” Well, there went that idea. Or was it the end?
Over the years, I had thought about -why- my last foray into business wasn’t the amazing success I had hoped it would be. The answer was fairly simple. I had failed to do the research to establish the viability of the concept. Had I done my due diligence, I would have seen the upcoming changes that, basically, put me -out- of business. In the process of evaluation, I realized I had learned from the past experience. That I was better prepared to move ahead.
So I went back to the wife and said “YES I CAN!”, and spent the next 3 months doing research, setting up the base, and preparing for what came next.
On Wednesday, August 1, 1990, I took the last $100 from the severance package (basically, all we had), loaded my notebooks (paper kind, pre-computer), suitcase, and brand new business cards into my truck, and headed into the unknown. Could I do it? Had I truly learned from the past, and prepared myself for the future?
I signed my first contract with a customer that afternoon. The wife was finally HAPPY!
When I returned home a few days later (with 4 more contracts and checks to deposit), the wife told me -why- she was happy with what happened.
I found out it wasn’t the money that did it. It wasn’t that the next house payment could be covered, or that the application for food stamps (she was preparing, just in case) would not be needed. The answer somewhat surprised me.
The reason, it turned out, was because I did not -settle- for something less (local job, less money, unhappy future), but utilized the skills/knowledge I had developed over time, and turned adversity into opportunity.
[NOTE: Yeah, I managed to marry an exceptional woman. Just not sure -why- she picked me!]
That business was sold in 1999.
Due to what seemed like the end of my career, being RIF’d, an avenue to a new future opened. The path that adversity placed me on began the journey I still enjoy today.
No one knows how actions taken today will truly affect the future. We can but do our best to be prepared to make the most from our decisions.
Nor do we fully understand how what may seem like the end of one path can be what opens new possibilities when it happens.
What we do know, though, is that if we never try to change things, simply accept -what it is- for all time, we will remain locked in the loop of mediocracy. Always dreaming, but never taking measurable action to achieve it.
Adversity can be the catalyst for change.
It can place you in a position forcing you to make hard choices. Do you stay where you are? Or do you look to this as an opportunity to take action, change your life?
The choices we make define -who- we are. This set’s the next (Same as the last one? Or not?) path we will travel.
Start preparing today for what the future may bring. Make sure you are the person that says “YES I CAN!” when that opportunity presents itself from a situation others may question, or see as the end.
Set yourself apart from the crowd. Seek out the knowledge, and people, that can turn adversity into an advantage.
Your future WILL change. Make it a positive one!
With Sincere Thanks
“The only limits we have are those you impose upon yourself. Remove the limits!”
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